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Bacolod City, PhilippinesFriday, January 28, 2011
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Azkals in friendly games
vs. CPU, Negros Selection

BY NIDA BUENAFE

As part of their preparations for the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifying play-off match against Mongolia, the Philippine men’s football team, Azkals, will play two friendly games in Bacolod City.

Although they have yet to finalize everything, team manager Dan Palami said the Azkals are scheduled to play against the Korean-reinforced Central Philippine University squad this weekend and against the local selection when the team is complete.

Celebrated members midfielders James and Philip Younghusbands, Jason de Jong, keeper Neil Etheridge, defenders Robert Gier and Aly Borromeo were not with the team when the group arrived in Bacolod, Wednesday.

Palami said the team is focused on playing their best on February 9 and they are looking forward to having a good training camp in Bacolod City.

“What we want to do is to play and focus on executing accurate passes and good transition from offense to defense,” Palami said, adding that the team needs to play consistently irregardless of whom they are playing against.

The presence of the Fil-foreigners in the team, he said, was a product of a continuous recruitment of players who will strengthen the team.

With the popularity football has been getting lately, he said players have come forward to tryout for the national team.

The victory against Vietnam in the elimination round and its entry in the semifinals against Indonesia during the AFF Suzuki Cup last year proved to be the turning point for the Azkals.

“When we returned from Vietnam, everybody was eager to see the Azkals,” Palami said during the press conference yesterday at the Luxor Hotel.

The players, he said has come to love their name, Azkals, attributing it to the lowly local stray dog’s character of fighting back when intimidated but rising to its potential when taken cared of.

“What we have back in 2006 was a losing Azkal. After Vietnam, there was some sort of transformation and we decided to keep the name and elevate the status of the Azkals,” Palami said.

On February 9, he said the team will be out there in Panaad playing for the country and making their countrymen proud.

The Azkals will continue to improve the level of its game and with the support of all sectors, football will strengthen its foothold in Philippine sports, Palami said.*NAB

 

 

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